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Arlington’s Boede celebrates 100 years

Henry Boede celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 26 with family and friends at the Olympic Place retirement and assisted living community in Arlington. - Courtesy Photo
Henry Boede celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 26 with family and friends at the Olympic Place retirement and assisted living community in Arlington.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

ARLINGTON — Henry Boede has been a Washington boy all his life, and while many local residents can say the same, few can boast of having been born on Orcas Island 100 years ago.

Boede celebrated his centennial birthday at the Olympic Place retirement and assisted living community in Arlington with family and friends on Dec. 26, and reflected on a life that he lived with practical sensibilities firmly in mind from an early age.

“I knew I wanted to work for the government even before I graduated from high school in 1930, because I knew I wanted to be able to retire,” laughed Boede, whose civil service career included a decade each with the Navy, the Army and the General Services Administration. “My grandfather always said, ‘You’ll never get rich working for the government, but they’ll never turn you out either.’”

As far as Boede is concerned, the most interesting technological development of the past century is still the radio, which he recalls discovering when he was 10, although he also rated the advances in medical science during those decades quite highly as well.

“I used to be scared to go to the dentist as a kid,” Boede laughed. “Medicine and dentistry have progressed tremendously.”

Boede has also bid farewell to more than one wife during his life, with his second wife passing away from cancer when she was 44 years old. He was 65 years old when he married his third and final wife, and it was the only one of his three marriages that didn’t yield any children.

“I picked up three step-children from my second marriage,” Boede said. “If I had time, I could tell you how many grandchildren I have, but it’d take me quite a while. I have more great-great-grandchildren than anything else. I get them mixed up with the great-grandchildren sometimes, but I know them all when I see them.”

When asked what lessons he passed down to his children, he smiled and said, “To behave themselves.” Boede himself seems to have taken his own advice, leading a steady life without smoking or drinking, and only indulging in coffee or tea every once in a while.

“I’ve been a member of the Oddfellows Lodge for 80 years and a Democrat all my life,” Boede said. “I’ve enjoyed traveling. I’ve been to about half the states, including Hawaii and Alaska, and I visited my youngest son when he was serving with the Marines in Okinawa. Of course, I’ve dipped into Mexico and Canada as well.”

Ultimately, Boede believes that you’re never too old to learn.

“I’m long past giving advice to anyone else,” Boede said, when asked if he had any wisdom to pass on to others. “I’m getting information now.”

 

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